Almost Overlooked - Day 7

By Zachary Sheldon | Published Jan 31, 2024
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Hiking through possible tussocks with heavy packs...Boo! Another day of packrafting it is!

We packed up and began floating to the Canning River. It wasn't long before it was a smooth flow and seldom was the rapid requiring a booty scoot. The weather was amazing, the water wasn't bad when you'd get splashed with it.

We were having a grand old time when we came upon a snowbank. We decided to pull out and check it out. We goofed around on it for a little bit and then back in the water to enjoy class I run with the occasional class II. As we were so loaded and shy on storage, we didn't have life jackets and prior to this it wasn't a big deal, but the water was moving faster and was getting deeper. Every now and then we had to maneuver past a sweeper section. I was fairly confident this was in our wheelhouse, but mistakes happen, and we were a long way from help.

Thankfully we persevered. The last section of Eagle Creek felt like we were doing a float through Eastern Washington or Montana. With the heat and the small willows lining the bank it was way too warm to be 45 miles south of the Arctic Ocean.

We hugged the southern braids and eventually slid our packrafts the last 200ft to the Canning River. Eric was sold on the idea keeping our gear in the packrafts and just walking on the shore and towing them upriver. I was... willing. I don't know what the trick was exactly, but he was much better at it than I. My packraft kept wanting to beach.

We made it almost exactly a mile before I said screw it and started to unpack my packraft. I was slipping on the rocks and stubbing my toes and smacking my ankle on rocks. I was done.

We made it just under a mile before we decided to cross the Canning River. Back in the packrafts! Since it was just a crossing, we only stored a few items in the body of the packraft and just threw our packs in the raft and sat on top of them. As having the most paddling experience and packed up first I went for it. There were a few spots where the current changed, pushing up on the side of the packraft. You had to react without overreacting, especially with such a high center of gravity, and if you flipped chances are you were losing gear.

I got across, unloaded, and ready to respond should Eric have any problems. But he came across looking a lot smoother than I felt when coming across.

Once on the west bank we proceeded to tow our packrafts and gear behind us. We made it about a half mile before a storm moved in up the Canning, Matt had warned about river levels rising rapidly out there and this was a big storm across a large basin.

We made our way across little islands and braids. I did it in trips as my gear was broken down and I didn't feel like properly packing it just to unpack it half a mile later.

I dropped my gear on the bluff and passed Eric as I went back for the rest of my gear. I told him to get the tent up and rainfly on because the storm comes on quick. Moving through the alders I was watching him on the bluff taking photos. "Eric get the tent up!" I was thinking it cause even if I shouted it, it was unlikely he would have heard.

By the time I got on the bluff he had the tent setup and was finishing securing the rainfly. The storm passed to the northeast, and we walked up the bluff and watched it for a while.

In the tent we developed a game plan for the next day.

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